Why should companies build Openly Operated products? While transparency brings numerous benefits to the end user, there are also many advantages to being Openly Operated for companies of all sizes, whether they serve customers (B2C) or businesses (B2B). We describe the advantages and long term vision below.
Users and companies today do not trust apps and services — not even the ones they've been using for years. In every product category, customers are desperate for something they can trust and see proof of that trust. This is true not only in the consumer space, but also true in the B2B space, where sometimes makes sense for businesses to pay a significantly greater amount for a product that has meaningful assurances of privacy and protection.
|Example Scenario||A biotechnology company has to keep private medical records for their users, and is choosing a vendor for this service. The fine for a single HIPAA violation for a single person can be tens of thousands of dollars. If you were in charge of making vendor purchase decisions for this biotechnology company, would you rather pay $10 per customer stored at a vendor with zero proof of how customer data is stored, secured, and accessed? Or would you pay $30 per customer stored on an Openly Operated vendor that's fully transparent and audited?|
How will your employees choose to act? Especially for medium to large businesses, a growing headcount means that instead of being able to manage every employee, the company has to set a cultural standard to guide their workers. Because the requirements to be Openly Operated necessitate transparency for everyone working on the product, companies can foster a culture of integrity simply by adhering to the requirements.
|Example Scenario||From the day that she was onboarded as an engineer at a major ridesharing startup, Susan learns the company is dedicated to trust through transparency by being Openly Operated. From building dashboards for the Customer Support staff, to cooperating with the legal team on passenger-driver matching algorithms, Susan does everything with the expectation that her work will be public and represent not just the brand of the company, but also her own personal brand.|
Even if most of a company's employees are trusted, there are still always potential internal threats — interns, contractors, and new hires are all risks. What if they steal business information or sell user data on the side? Openly Operated requires all infrastructure and critical app-level actions to leave verifiable audit trails, which allows identification of the employee responsible for any issues. The mere existence of auditability also creates a powerful deterrent against bad internal behavior.
|Example Scenario||A large, publicly-traded Fortune 50 company's internal product plans for the next three years leak onto the internet, causing immeasurable harm. Who was responsible? Was it a disgruntled fired employee, a new hire who shared too much, a vendor who was too lax with data? Being Openly Operated allows the company to track down the suspect by analyzing the full audit trail of which employees accessed what documents, and if they're using Openly Operated vendors, the company can also efficiently investigate third party partners.|
Today, billions of devices run on the foundations of collaborative open source projects such as Linux, Apache, and MySQL. The web would certainly be worse off without open source — an estimated 67 percent of servers run on Linux. While security is never guaranteed, open source has allowed millions to quickly and effectively create new software that is relatively secure.
But in the modern web, many breaches and leaks happen due to misconfigurations, simple oversights, and usage of weak encryption — all which often occur outside of the source code. So what about opening up all this infrastructure around software, such as configurations, deployment, and processes? Similar to open source, Openly Operated's requirement for Open Infrastructure is a move toward a collaborative future where millions of people can quickly and effectively create new, secure infrastructure.
Any company that allows a developer platform faces a risk of their API, data, and user information being exploited by the developers. The central issue is that the developer platform has no way of checking or enforcing that developers are abiding by their data usage terms and conditions. So, when developers misuse the APIs, the company that runs the developer platform is on the hook for all the legal and financial downsides.
Companies running the developer platform can solve this problem by requiring that the developers who use their APIs to be Openly Operated, and only approving apps that can prove they're obeying the terms. Since Openly Operated requires open source and open infrastructure, everyone is able to verify if the developer's apps are being abusive.
The bigger a product gets, the more work it has, whether that's developing features, fixing bugs, customer support, or something else. Fortunately, the more users a product gets, the more potential help it also has. In fact, developers often find that some users are more than happy to volunteer to help improve a product they use — the current bottleneck is that they currently have very limited ways to help, even if the volunteer may have sufficient technical skill.
The Openly Operated certification process creates a space for companies to in engage the community, allowing the conversation to continue past the auditing and audit report. This collaboration with the community not only lets users ask their most pressing questions, but because the product is already open source and open infrastructure, it also lets users help improve the product. The company's product gets better, and all the users benefit — everybody wins.
Openly Operated aims to solve critical privacy, security, and trust concerns for both users and businesses. Our mission is to bring transparency through trust for everyone. We hope startups and large companies alike will create Openly Operated versions of today's web services, apps, and APIs. The opportunity is huge: It's easy to imagine demand for an Openly Operated messaging app standing out from the saturated market of closed, opaque, unaudited messaging apps, or a privacy-focused photo sharing service that can prove it's not data-mining uploaded photos.
Trust through transparency is the future. Here's how to get started.
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User Benefits A deeper look into the many benefits for users, with examples and references.
For Companies See why companies and businesses also benefit from being Openly Operated.
How To The requirements for Openly Operated products, and how to get started.
About Us Read about the values, mission, origin, and creators of Openly Operated.
Reports See live examples of Openly Operated products and their audit reports.
Get Involved Discuss Openly Operated, transparency, the future of the web, and any related topics.